St. Francis’ defense locks down Brandywine, 53-40; Arbor Prep next
East Lansing – Thurday’s first Class C semifinal featured teams playing contrasting styles as Niles Brandywine and Traverse City St. Francis as each team looked to advance to the state final for the first time.
St. Francis’ post game, led by junior Juliana Phillips, proved to be too much for Brandywine, a usually dangerous perimeter shooting team, as the Gladiators notched up a 53-40 victory at the Breslin Center.
St. Francis coach Keith Haske said that the difference was his team’s ability to score in the post in the second half and noted his team did benefit from a bit of an off-shooting game from Brandywine.
“We expected a lot of pressure from them and a lot of 3-point shots,” he said. “They struggled from the 3-point line, which has been there game all year and it kind of went in our favor that way. I thought in the second half, we did a great job of getting the ball in the paint and down to Juliana and I thought maybe that was the difference in the game.”
St. Francis (26-1) advances to Saturday’s 4 p.m. final where it will face Ypsilanti Arbor Prep, which defeated Ithaca in the second semifinal.
Carrying a 37-31 lead into the fourth quarter, St. Francis began pulling away in the fourth quarter as the Gladiators increased their lead to 43-32 just a minute and a half into the fourth after baskets from Phillips and Sarah Chouinard.
Brandywine managed to cut the deficit back down to single digits but St. Francis used a basket and a pair of free throws from Phillips to take a 47-38 lead with under three minutes left.
Phillips led St. Francis with 17 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. Chouinard chipped in with 13 points. Lauren McDonnell added in 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Phillips said that while she was able to find shots more easily against a shorter team, Brandywine still presented different challenges.
“Usually if there’s some bigger girls on a team, I know I’m going to have to work harder and get some better footing,” she said. “It’s definitely a lot easier when there’s teams under 6-foot in general. So there’s not going to be as much contact when you’re going up for your shots and those smaller girls are going to work a lot harder too, trying to box you out, so both ways, it’s difficult.”
Brandywine jumped out to a 16-15 lead at the end of the first quarter before St. Francis’ defense took over in the second. The Gladiators allowed just two points and took a 22-18 lead into halftime.
St. Francis never trailed in the second half.
Makenna Hartline led Brandywine (24-3) who scored 17 points and had eight rebounds.